To the Community of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota,
No one can be unaware of the war now waging in the Holy Land. Over the weekend, violence erupted when Palestinians in Gaza launched missiles and other attacks into southern Israel. A number of Israelis and other foreign nationals have been taken hostage. In its defense, Israel launched its own barrage of missiles and other weapons. To date, nearly 2,000 are confirmed dead on both sides and thousands are injured. The violence, destruction, and death increases by the hour.
As members of this Lasallian Catholic community, I invite us all to pray for all affected by this extraordinary escalation in violence – in the very land recognized as the birthplace of the Prince of Peace. In addition, we ought to be mindful of the half-dozen fellow Lasallian schools in the area, including Bethlehem University, this year marking the 50th anniversary since its founding.
Today the Catholic Church marks the Feast Day of Saint Pope John XXIII, known as “good Pope John”. Among his most well-known and oft-quoted writings is Pacem in Terris: On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty. This document, still rich in insights and wisdom, was published 60 years ago, in 1963.
I offer two quotes from that document that might be especially helpful for our prayer and reflection in the context of the war now raging in Israel-Palestine:
The true and solid peace of nations consists not in equality of arms, but in mutual trust alone.
We supplicate all rulers not to remain deaf to the cry of humanity. Let them do everything in their power to save peace. By so doing they will spare the world the horrors of a war that would have disastrous consequences, such as nobody can foresee.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of Jesus; and the God of Mohammed, peace be upon them all, is surely weeping as this war continues and death and destruction multiply. Let us pray for peace and invoke the Prince of Peace so that this very troubled land will soon be restored to the Holy Land that God intended it to be.
At 12:15 P.M., Friday, October 13, a Votive Mass for Peace will be offered in the St. Thomas More chapel on our Winona campus. These Holy Mass prayers will allow us, in a special way, to lift up this violent conflict and pray for an enduring peace, built on justice for all, in the land.
Live Jesus, the Prince of Peace, in our hearts. Forever.
The Very Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, PhD